Today is International Women’s Day and our project proudly recognizes, and stands in solidarity with, the incredible women and girls all around the world that face a day-to-day adversity that is individual only to them.
Aside from promoting and standing for equality across the board for women, our project has also focused on creating a sanitation solution that focuses on the needs and safety of women and girls.
Intentional partnerships, like the one we have with SEWA – a women’s union in India with national reach in-country, that supports user studies through the mobilization of communities to provide input and feedback – have had a direct influence on our system design and approach. This data we collect is being implemented into our toilet system so that we can provide a space of safety for women and girls to relieve and care for themselves with dignity.
Our team is also sharing this data openly – collaborating with other institutions to help develop system designs, as well as educate on the needs for better access to proper MHM (Menstrual Hygiene Management). Many cultures around the world still don’t recognize this vital need in society, resorting to damaging and often dangerous treatment of women and girls during their monthly period. We are trying to do our part to help remedy that.
It goes without saying that toilets can’t solve every issue a woman faces daily, but they can at least make portions of their day-to-day life easier and safer.
You can find more information on International Women’s Day right here.
Currently, 2.5B people lack access to improved sanitation, and daily 2200 children die from diarrheal disease. One fourth of Indian school-age girls drop out during puberty due to lack of sanitation options during menses.
Empowering women and girls to lead in solving the sanitation crisis will improve lives, livelihoods, health, safety, and dignity. Their leadership will transform the sanitation value chain from user interface, to collection, to treatment and reuse of fecal sludge.
The next phase of our program reaffirms our ongoing commitment to address sanitation through the eyes of women and girls, focusing on the unique role that women and girls can play in addressing the global sanitation crisis. A problem that disproportionately impacts women and girls, should be addressed from the perspective of women and girls. This video looks at the problem and solution from the perspective of a 12-year old girl name Lakshmi, living in India.
A recent article from U.S. National Public Radio (NPR) followed global Menstrual Hygiene Day (which occurred May 28), and supports our WASH advocacy efforts aimed at confronting the taboos and social restrictions placed on menstruating girls and women. In addition, the article also stresses the bringing of investments and innovation to mainstreaming MHM into sanitation solutions.
“Across the developing world, tens of millions of girls face major difficulties managing their monthly period. According to UNICEF, more than half the schools in the poorest countries lack private toilets. And unlike teenage girls in well-off countries, many in the developing world can’t afford (or even find) tampons and pads.”
“We’re not talking about rocket ships; we’re talking about sanitary pads,” she says. “Yet they both have the same effect. They take you places.”
You can read the entire article on npr.org by clicking right here.
May 28 is global menstrual hygiene day. Let us honor our mothers, daughters, sisters – and all women by acknowledging, recognizing and speaking about menstruation.
Safe and effective menstrual hygiene management depends on adequate sanitation. Sanitation that is safe, hygienic, and private.
Information is key to help us achieve this goal. Information will help increase knowledge, build respect, and reduce negative perceptions. Water and sanitation programming needs to make menstrual hygiene management (MHM) a central part of our work. MHM is an equity, employment, human rights, health, and environmental issue closely linked to sanitation. Menstruation is a natural bodily function, just like defecation and urination. Let us not be ashamed and stigmatize MHM.
The myths and taboos that surround menstrual hygiene make it very difficult for women in our society. MHM is important for many reasons. As the ability to maintain hygiene, it is integral to a woman’s well-being, education access, mobility, employment and dignity.
As part of our global work under the reinvent the toilet program, we are testing strategies to provide safe, private MHM solutions, as well as boost access to products and sanitation services. It is vital for us to recognize, talk about, and address the challenge to integrate MHM into our sanitation work.
Our mothers, daughters, sisters and all women deserve privacy, access, and dignity. Break the silence. This infographic from menstrualhygieneday.org helps highlight “why”:
Sexual violence is endemic throughout the developed and developing world. Recent research work models data from 1 township in South Africa illustrates how improving access to sanitation facilities in urban informal settlements can simultaneously reduce both the number of sexual assaults and the overall cost to society.
Improving access to public toilets in South African urban settlements may reduce both the incidence of sexual assaults by nearly 30% and the overall cost to society, a study by researchers at the Yale School of Public Health and Yale School of Management found. The research was published April 29 in PLOS ONE.
Rights-based and development organizations have increasingly been calling attention to the fact that inadequate local sanitation facilities are a key factor in a woman’s risk for physical or sexual assault. Many women in South Africa must travel out of their homes to public toilets, where they are more vulnerable to attack from sexual predators. This research from South Africa has global implications, as such links between inadequate sanitation and sexual violence have been noted in incidents in many regions, refugee camps, as well as in urban and rural settings.